Pianist Hirakawa releases trio album

Eddie Brookshire plays bass.

​Pianist Keigo Hirakawa was unfamiliar with the Dayton jazz scene when he relocated to the area from Boston in 2010. As fate would have it, a key meeting with musician and educator Eddie Brookshire set the stage for a variety of projects.

“I didn’t come here for music,” said Hirakawa, who celebrates the release of his new CD, “And Then There Were Three,” at Gilly’s on Sunday.

“I came here for something else, but I was trying to figure out what the jazz scene was like. Eddie teaches in the music department at UD, and he was the first musician I contacted when I came to Dayton. We chatted and played a little bit. He gave me a lot of insight into what the scene was like and who to check out.”

Hirakawa is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Dayton. He soon joined Brookshire’s band.

“Eddie and I really clicked well musically, so we started working together,” Hirakawa said. “He brought me into his quintet in 2010, and I’ve been with them ever since. That matchup was meant to be. The drummer who plays most often with that quintet is Fenton Sparks, who is the other guy I used on my new CD. This rhythm section is essentially Eddie’s band with my flavor for this album.”

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The flavor on “And Then There Were Three” is a modern mixture of Hirakawa’s inspirations, which includes McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.

“I really wanted to challenge myself as a pianist,” Hirakawa said. “Eddie’s quintet as a whole is a wonderful band to be in, but I really felt the rhythm section was special. I wanted to see what I could do to take it in a different direction if it was just a rhythm section.”

All three players get an opportunity to shine within each composition, but it isn’t one individual solo after another.

“With this rhythm section, I don’t think of it as each one of us taking turns and improvising,” Hirakawa said. “My playing is very much connected to what’s going on with the drums and the bass at any given time, and their playing is, as well. It’s definitely a very collective effort.

“This trio takes a lot of musical risks,” he said. “I trust these guys so much. We go outside and stretch in one direction that may be a lot farther out than what some other musicians might choose to do. That’s the freedom this rhythm section allows me.”

Contact this contributing writer at donaldthrasher8@aol.com.

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